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They do not permit the people to be ill spoken of in comedy, so that they may not have a bad reputation;1 but if anyone wants to attack private persons, they bid him do so, knowing perfectly well that the person so treated in comedy does not, for the most part, come from the populace and mass of people but is a person of either wealth, high birth, or influence. Some few poor and plebeian types are indeed abused in comedy but only if they have been meddling in others' affairs and trying to rise above their class, so that the people feel no vexation at seeing such persons abused in comedy.

1 This passage has nothing to do with the known bans on comedy in 440/39-437/6 or in 415: see K.I. Gelzer, Die Schrift vom Staate der Athener (1937), pp. 71 and 128-132. Despite Gelzer's powerful arguments, there is, however, still controversy on this matter. It should be noted that the People (Demos) is a character in Aristophanes' Knights (produced in 424).

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1937 AD (1)
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